When I was a little girl, I found love in a box all beLove in a Box cause of a class assignment. On a Friday night I made an announcement at the dinner table. The words bubbled out in a torrent of excitement I could no longer contain. “My teacher said we have to bring a box for our valentines on Monday. But it has to be a special box, all decorated.”
Mother said, “We’ll see,” and she continued eating.
I wilted faster than a flower with no water. What did “We’ll see” mean? I had to have that box or there would be no valentines for me. My second grade Valentine’s Day would be a disaster. Maybe they didn’t love me enough to help me with my project.
All day Saturday I waited, and I worried, but there was no mention of a valentine box. Sunday arrived, and my concern increased, but I knew an inquiry about the box might trigger anger and loud voices. I kept an anxious eye on both my parents all day. In 1947, in my house, children only asked once. More than that invited punitive measures.
Late Sunday afternoon, my father called me into our apartment’s tiny kitchen. The table was covered with an assortment of white crepe paper, red construction paper, and bits and pieces of lace and ribbon from my mother’s sewing basket. An empty shoebox rested on top of the paper. Relief flooded through me when Daddy said, “Let’s get started on your project.”
In the next hour my father transformed the empty shoebox into a valentine box I would never forget. Crepe paper covered the ugly cardboard. My father fashioned a wrinkled piece of the pliable paper and glued it around the middle. He cut a slot in the lid and covered it with more of the white paper. Next came red hearts attached in what I considered all the right places. He hummed a tune while he worked, and I kneeled on my chair witnessing the magical conversion of the shoebox and handing him the glue when he needed it. When he finished, my father’s eyes sparkled, and a smile stretched across his thin face. “What do you think of that?”
My answer was a hug and a “Thank you, Daddy.”